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Trapped! What Being Root Bound Means for Your Jade Plant

Trapped! What Being Root Bound Means for Your Jade Plant

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As a common houseplant, jade plants are little scene-stealers that don’t ask for much in return. They’re pretty low-maintenance, but that doesn’t mean they don’t encounter problems.

If you find their roots poking out of the drainage holes, you might wonder: Do jade plants like to be root bound? Find out whether it’s a good or bad thing for them.

How to Tell if a Jade Plant Is Root Bound

A jade plant becomes root-bound when it outgrows its container, and its roots have run out of space to spread out. The roots coil around themselves, creep over the pot’s edges, and stick out of the drainage holes.

You can inspect the root ball by gently extracting your jade plant from its container. The roots can get all tangled up and packed so tightly that they end up taking the shape of the pot, which is why we sometimes call it pot-bound.

Sometimes, the condition is so severe there’s no option but to break the container to remove the plant.

Does a Jade Plant Like Being Root Bound?

A jade plant can tolerate being root-bound to some extent, but it won’t thrive in that condition for too long.

One of the primary issues of a root-bound jade plant is that it cannot absorb water and nutrients effectively. And if that’s not bad enough, water collects at the bottom of the pot, causing the soil to get waterlogged.

This condition creates the perfect breeding ground for disease-causing organisms that can lead to root rot.

Signs of Root Rot in Jade Plant

Root rot, which is often fatal, spells all kinds of trouble for your jade plant, including:

  • Yellowed leaves
  • Wilted leaves that eventually fall off
  • Wrinkly and squishy leaves
  • Soft and sagging stem
  • Soggy soil
  • Mushy, dark-colored roots with a foul smell

How to Save Your Root-Bound Jade Plant From Root Rot

Preventing root rot is much easier than curing it. It’s pretty sneaky—attacking the roots first and depriving the rest of the plant of valuable resources.

Usually, it has already done a lot of damage by the time you realize what’s happening to your jade plant.

However, there’s a good chance you can save your plant from an untimely demise if you spot root rot early enough.

After ensuring there are intact roots left, follow these steps to fix root rot in your jade plant:

  1. Remove the jade plant from the pot.
  2. Rinse all soil from the roots of the plant.
  3. Snip off all diseased roots.
  4. Use a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water to sanitize the pot.
  5. Re-plant the jade plant in the pot with a new potting mix.
  6. Water the jade plant.

How to Remove a Root Bound Jade Plant From the Pot

These are the steps to remove a root-bound jade plant safely from its container:

  1. Water the plant a day o two before repotting to loosen the soil and reduce stress on the plant.
  2. Turn the pot on its side and tap the bottom and sides to help loosen the soil and roots.
  3. Use a clean trowel or spade to slide around the inner edges of the pot to free the roots clinging to its walls.
  4. Lift the jade plant out of the pot carefully by the main stem.
  5. Untangle the matted roots with your fingers.
  6. If the roots are severely tangled, cut away excess roots using disinfected scissors or pruning shears.
  7. Shake off all soil once the plant is out of the container.
  8. Rinse the roots with clean water to remove any remaining soil.
  9. Inspect the roots for any sign of disease and damage before replanting in a new potting mix.

Remember to handle your jade plant with care. As much as possible, avoid damaging the roots or stems.

How to Repot a Root Bound Jade Plant

Use this guide to repot your root-bound jade plant:

1 – Choose a New Pot

Select a new pot that is one size larger than the current pot. It should have drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.

2 – Prepare the Jade Plant

If your jade plant has multiple branches, divide the roots into several plants by cutting through the root ball.

3 – Trim the Roots

After inspecting the roots to see how much growth you can expect, trim the roots with clean pruning shears.

Although unnecessary, doing this can encourage plant growth in the new container.

4 – Add New Potting Soil

Fill the bottom half of the pot with a well-draining potting mix. The ideal soil blend for jade plants contains the following:

  • two parts cactus potting soil
  • two parts coarse sand
  • one part pumice or perlite

5 – Transplant Your Jade Plant

Position the jade plant in the middle of the pot without the leaves touching the soil. Fill in around the plant with more soil, and gently pat it down to remove air pockets.

Don’t forget to leave an inch of space between the soil’s surface and the top of the pot to allow for watering.

6 – Water the Plant

After repotting, water your jade plant until the excess flows out of the drainage holes.

How Often to Repot a Root-Bound Jade Plant

The rule of thumb is to repot your root-bound jade plant every 2–3 years. Or you can wait for the roots to start to wrap around themselves in a ball before deciding to repot your plant.

The best time to repot your jade plant is in the summer or spring when it’s actively growing and has a better chance of recovering from repotting stress.

Final Thoughts

So, do jade plants like to be root bound?

Being root-bound isn’t ideal for the health and growth of jade plants. They need room to stretch out their roots and access water and nutrients to thrive.

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